Boy's hope of diabetes cure stems from cells
Daire Mallon (10) from Belfast was diagnosed "out of the blue" in January with Type 1 diabetes after being ill over Christmas.
He is understood to be one of the first children in Northern Ireland to have had their milk teeth stored for stem cells in the hope they can one day be used to cure him from the disease.
His mother Mary, a GP, told her sister Brid Hendron, a dentist, after Daire was diagnosed that she regretted that they had no stem cells of Daire's stored.
"Understandably it is a big shock for any family and Mary said – looking at the research – the best hope, in his lifetime, that treatment would become available was through stem cell therapy," Brid said.
"I worked in London for many years and it rang a bell. A colleague had mentioned he had started working with a company who were advancing stem cell removal from baby teeth."
After Brid researched the company, Daire travelled to London to have a tooth removed so that it could be taken to the laboratory at Precious Cells.
The family is notified within five days if they successfully retrieved DNA from the tooth.
"Daire went off and did that and it went to plan," Brid said. "It was a real relief for his parents, Mary and Damian.
"But they aren't under any illusion. This isn't promising a cure, this is just storing cells when they are young and healthy.
"Mary just wanted to know they were stored and they were there for him should something become available in the future," she said.
Brid Hendron is part-time lead clinician at Precious Cells Ireland.